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Dragon’s Dogma review

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You’d think Capcom would already have their adventure game development chock full already, what with its continuous Monster Hunter releases.  But nope, they’ve actually taken a highly ambitious route with its latest console effort, Dragon’s Dogma, a game that has its own tale to tell — though it’s not always the easiest one to stomach.

The game puts you in the shoes of a warrior who you get to customize at the start of the game.  It uses a very elaborate set-up system that’ll take you a few minutes to get through, with styles to choose from and pros and cons to balance.  Once you get that done, you find yourself trying to protect your village from a vicious dragon, but to no avail.  He knocks the wind out of you, and, perhaps trying to humiliate you on top of everything, he rips your chest open and eats your heart.

Strangely enough, though, that doesn’t kill you, as you turn out to be a special person known as “the Arisen."  Part of the fun of Dragon’s Dogma is discovering just what that entails, pursuing the dragon that ripped you apart while also engaging in a number of side quests with the help of a few companions known as “pawns.”

These “pawns,” who can be customized as well (and if you have Xbox Live, based on real friends — a huge bonus), stay by your side over the course of the game, but there are times you can assign certain ones if you feel like they’re particularly good for a mission.  While they’re quite loyal and can develop a relationship with you, they can also be a bit scatterbrained, sometimes performing the wrong action in your time of need (attacking instead of healing you) and making constant comments no matter what’s happening, like talking about a tree or insisting you “heal thyself” dozens of times over.  It’s one of the bigger annoyances in Dogma.

Another problem with the game is mission consistency.  Some of them are quite awesome, pitting you against hulking beasts that take a great deal of time to bring down.  Others are petty tasks that take a while to complete and drag down the momentum from the glory of battle.  And though the open world lets you pick and choose, there’s no shortage of missions that you wish you could just get past.  The backtracking can get old, too.  Fortunately, the gameplay holds up either way, with enough hack-and-slash action to fulfill your adventuring ways.

The world of Gransys doesn’t quite hold the wonders of the virtual worlds of other games, like Skyrim and Witcher, due to some repeated territory.  However, the game still holds up with a decent amount of polish, and some of the characters, particularly the bigger brutes in the game, look spectacular.  And when a dragon breathes fire, it’s a really startling effect, like that “other” dragon-killing game.  Some of the character models could use some more work, but otherwise, this is a fine turn for Capcom’s development crew.

The sound is exceptional too, thanks to music that actually fits into the theme of the adventure (rather than, say, the typical rock tracks found in Dead Rising) and dialogue that actually has drive to it — that is, when it’s not being repeated over and over by your lame-brained “pawns.”  The weapon effects are cool, too.

Do we recommend Dragon’s Dogma over some of the superior adventures out there?  Not really, as its AI system leaves a bit to be desired, and some quests should’ve just been thrown away.  However, if you’ve mastered everything Skyrim and seek out a worthy adventure to get you through the summer, this Dragon has got heart to spare.  (Ooh, that wasn’t the greatest of puns, was it?)

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]

Good

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Robert Workman
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